Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days Might Be the Best Film-Based Game You’ll Ever Play

Big Star Games has set out to shirk the curse of the film-game genre. And after playing Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days at PAX East, we think they just might do it.
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Since its release almost 25 years ago, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs has been a cultural and cinematic touchstone for filmmakers, writers, and gamers alike. But even so, the film has yet to receive a good video game adaptation.

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That’s all about to change.

At PAX East this weekend, Big Star Games, in conjunction with Lionsgate, announced Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days — a top-down shooter for PC and Xbox One. Based in Barcelona, Spain, Big Star Games is made up of industry veterans who have worked on titles such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Payday: The Heist. So while they may be a smaller studio, they have the chops to make mechanically sound games that are crazy fun to play – which is the case with their first PC and console-focused release.

Feeling a lot like Hotline Miami, without aping Devolver’s 2012 release, Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days isn’t as fast paced as that title. But it is reminiscent of and greatly builds upon Hotline’s strategic aspect and bloody combat.

Although a firm release date for Bloody Days has yet to be announced — with Big Star only saying it will be released “later this year” — we were able to get our hands on a preview build of the game on the PAX show floor. 

And we absolutely loved it. Here’s why.

Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days Has Solid Core Mechanics 

Even in its early alpha build, Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days already nails the core concepts of a good shooter: it’s intuitive, it’s fast (yet strategic), and most of all, it’s accurate and fun.

Moving one of the six memorable characters from the movie – from Mr. Pink to Mr. Blue – is smooth and methodical, while aiming is fluid and precise. A purely pick-up-and-play title, Bloody Days doesn’t concern itself with obtuse inputs or stodgy controls. Every time I aimed at an enemy and shot, I hit my target. Crosshairs don’t float or fly across the screen like in some other top-downs. Instead, Bloody Days’ controls are impressively responsive.

What’s more, Big Star hopes to keep combat fresh and engaging through their unique “Time Back” mechanic (which we’ll talk more about below). There’s also a polished combo system that’s predicated on timing and skill, along with a set of abilities unique to each member of the RD crew — which will better help players strategize each robbery. 

Big Star Puts a Lot of Emphasis on Strategy in Bloody Days With “Time Back”

Yes, Bloody Days looks like Hotline Miami in many ways – it’s more stylized than Hotline, but it will ultimately draw comparisons. That, however, is just on the surface; in every other way it feels very different. Instead of blazing through each map and viciously butchering the enemy, Reservoir Dogs emphasizes strategy through a core system mechanic called “Time Back.”

As engaging as it is interesting, this mechanic is a fresh take on the top-down action-shooter. “Time Back” allows you to control multiple members of the heist team in a hybrid real-time, turn-based manner. It’s a little confusing at first, but it’s easy to grasp once you go through the tutorial. Here’s how it really works.

At the start of each level, you’ll have at your control two to three members of Reservoir Dogs’ thieves’ gallery. The heist leader, the character you will move first, gets around the map in real-time and opens pathways or shoots enemies as he sees fit. Theoretically, you could finish levels with just this single character, but that’s not the best way to play Bloody Days.

Instead, you should pay special attention to the clock in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. At the beginning of each mission, the clock begins to tick. When you’ve strategically positioned your heist leader behind cover or in the perfect position to take out an enemy, you press the space bar and time rewinds.

This puts you in control of your second heist member.

As the heist leader (your first character) moves along the path you just made for him (engaging guards or not), you actively move your second character to flank the enemy or cover your first character. You’ll have exactly the same amount of time to move your second heist member as you did for your heist leader. When time’s up, control will revert to your first character and the action continues. Should you have a third character, the process repeats all over. 

In practice, it goes something like this: You begin one of Bloody Days’ 18 missions with Mr. Blond and Mr. Pink, for example. You take control of Mr. Blond and open the door in front of you. You pass through an empty room and continue straight ahead instead of taking a right through the open door in that direction.

You kick open the double doors in front of you. There’s a guard standing in the middle of the room. You shoot him, but another guard runs up the hallway behind you.

An interesting take on the top-down action-shooter, “Time Back” allows you to control multiple members of the heist team in a hybrid real-time, turn-based manner.

You hit the spacebar, which rewinds time to the beginning of the mission. But instead of being in control of Mr. Blond, you’re now in control of Mr. Pink. As Mr. Blond opens the door in front of you and takes out the guard standing in the middle of the room, you move to your right. You run into the hallway ahead, turning left. The guard running toward Mr. Blond is in your sights. You fire. He goes down and Mr. Blond doesn’t get blasted.

That’s how “Time Back” works. And it works really, really well — adding a unique layer of strategy and fun to each mission of Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days.

There’s Not Going to Be a Lot of Story in Bloody Days — And That’s Probably a Good Thing 

Reservoir Dogs is a cult classic — one held in such high regard that it might be difficult (at best) to put an emphasis on story when it comes to Bloody Days. That’s why Big Star Games isn’t. Instead of retreading Tarantino’s narrative or filling out RD lore in video game form, Bloody Days focuses on the build up to the infamous diamond heist portrayed in the film. According to the developers, it will do so without digging down into the nitty gritty details so it doesn’t encroach on the film’s established diegesis.

However, from what we saw of the game at PAX East, the dialog and characterization of each member of the heist team will remain true to their filmic counterparts through lots of witty banter and creative cursing.

So while it might seem strange on the surface, we’re actually glad Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days won’t focus on the story of these iconic outlaws. Because it means Big Star is focusing on the amazing combat and strategy the game has to offer. 

On top of all that, Big Star Games told us that Bloody Days will allow players to customize their loadouts before each of the game’s 18 missions, with the overarching narrative culminating in the diamond heist we see in the Reservoir Dogs film. Overall, these missions will be linear in nature, but it was emphasized during our demo that players will have unique and interesting ways to open new levels while progressing through the game. 

We’ll have to wait and see if Bloody Days ultimately lives up to the source material and the game’s growing hype. But from what we’ve seen, it looks like Big Star Games could very well be on the verge of stealing our hearts with this gem. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and coverage on Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days in the coming months. 

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Jonathan Moore
Jonathan Moore is the Editor-in-Chief of GameSkinny and has been writing about games since 2010. With over 1,200 published articles, he's written about almost every genre, from city builders and ARPGs to third-person shooters and sports titles. While patiently awaiting anything Dino Crisis, he consumes all things Star Wars. He has a BFA in Creative Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing focused on games writing and narrative design. He's previously been a newspaper copy editor, ad writer, and book editor. In his spare time, he enjoys playing music, watching football, and walking his three dogs. He lives on Earth and believes in aliens, thanks to Fox Mulder.